Chapter Forty-One

Apologies for the short chapter – it’s really a continuation of the previous…  I’ll try to have Forty-Two be a bit beefier, I promise.

Fear makes cowards of us all.

— Unknown

20 Novem, 5249 PD

“If you ladies don’t mind,” Frederick said quietly as he limped over to join Lindsay and Rachel at the other end of the chamber, “would you be adverse to my hitching a ride with you up to…wherever we’re going?”  He glanced back over his shoulder toward Daci and Adam, a frown creasing his brow.  Lindsay followed his gaze and frowned herself.

“He looks like he swallowed a lemon,” Lindsay said quietly.

“Yes,” Frederick agreed.  “I don’t think the conversation that the two of them are about to have is one I want to be a party to, especially when it’s concerning me.”

Rachel shook her head.  “You don’t think that you could defuse the situation?”

“Not a chance,” Frederick said.  “I’m good, but I’m not that good.”

“Where are we going?”  Lindsay asked quietly.  “Do you know?”

“Dr. Grace’s sister said something about halos.”

Lindsay and Rachel exchanged a look even as Lindsay’s heart skipped a beat.

Halo Ridge.  They’re going to have them land at Halo Ridge.  The old Grace house on the cliff.

            They’re coming home.  They’re coming home right now.  She swallowed hard.  They’re coming home.

“Well, we’d better get going out to Zephaniah’s, then,” Rachel said quietly, shoving her hands deep into her pockets.  “I’ll drive.”

“Straight there?”  Lindsay asked as she and Frederick followed Rachel out of the Council chambers and into the corridor.

“Straight there,” Rachel confirmed, not looking back.

“We don’t need to stop and get anything?”

Rachel looked at her strangely.  “What would we need to get, Lindsay?”

“I don’t know,” she said quietly, momentarily hating herself for the sudden nervousness that she felt, the sudden urge to hide.  “Supplies, I guess.  I…Aunt Rachel, I saw something. About them coming home, I saw something.”

Frederick climbed into the skimmer first, followed by Lindsay and her aunt, who continued to give the younger woman a strange look, though one that was now laced with concern.

“What sort of something?”

Lindsay caught her lip between her teeth.  “I saw them coming back.  I saw Kara hug Ezra, but I never saw Brendan or Alana.  We know Alana’s okay because she’s been on the comm with Uncle Adam—she’s flying the damn ship.  But I don’t know how Brendan is—how bad it is.  What am I going to do if he’s not going to be okay?”

“Alana would have told us, Lindsay,” Rachel said, her tone careful and voice soft.  She was trying to be reassuring, and the fact that she was trying both touched Lindsay’s heart and terrified her that much more.

How can I be sure she didn’t and everyone isn’t just trying to find a gentle way to tell me?

Frederick’s hand closed around hers and the frail man squeezed with what felt like every ounce of his strength.  “Have faith,” he said softly to her.  “Just because they call you the Oracle doesn’t mean everything you’ve ever seen will come to pass.”

A shiver shot down her spine and she swallowed hard.  “How can you know that, Frederick?”

“Ask your father sometime.”  His fingers tightened again and he looked toward Rachel.  “How far is it?”

“Not far,” she said.  “But far enough that D’Arcy might not notice the landing until it’s too late.”

“He’s getting more dangerous,” Lindsay mumbled.

“He’ll only get as dangerous as we let him get,” Rachel said.  “And I don’t intend to let him get very dangerous at all.”

He’s already reached that level, Aunt Rachel.  You’re too late.  Lindsay closed her eyes and slumped in her seat, trying to take deep, calm breaths, trying not to dwell on what lived in her nightmares.

She tried not to believe that Brendan dying was a possibility.

She knew that she was wrong.

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